James Gadson

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James Gadson
Born (1939-06-17) June 17, 1939 (age 82)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1968–present
Associated acts

James Gadson ( James Edward Gadson; born June 17, 1939) is an American drummer and session musician. Beginning his career in the late 1960s, Gadson has since become one of the most-recorded drummers in the history of R&B.[1] He is also a singer and songwriter.[2]


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gadson played with the first line-up of Charles Wright's Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band,[3] and recorded three albums with them between 1968 and 1970. Along with other members of Wright's band, he went on to appear on many hit records, including with Dyke & the Blazers.[4] Gadson started to become well known as a drummer following the release of the album Still Bill by Bill Withers,[5] released by Sussex Records in 1972. He played on The Temptations album 1990,[6] released on the Motown label in 1973.

In 1975, he played with Freddie King on Larger Than Life[7] and went on to record with Martha Reeves, Randy Crawford, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Albert King, Rose Royce, Elkie Brooks and many more artists.[8] In 1975, he anchored the Motown classic double platinum album City Of Angels, recorded by Billy Griffin & The Miracles.

Gadson was also the drummer on Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" in 1976 and Diana Ross's hit 1976 single Love Hangover and appeared on two tracks, "At The Mercy" and "Riding To Vanity Fair", on the 2005 Paul McCartney album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.

He has a brief appearance in the Adam Sandler 2009 movie Funny People as a member of the jam band that Sandler's character hires to play with him.

In April 2009, Gadson joined Alex Dixon, grandson of Willie Dixon, on his 2009 release titled Rising From The Bushes, in which he appeared on two tracks, "Fantasy" and Willie Dixon's famous song "Spoonful".[9]

In June 2009, Gadson joined Beck, Wilco, Feist and Jamie Lidell covering Skip Spence's Oar as part of Beck's Record Club series, with videos appearing on Beck's website beginning November 2009.[10] He has drummed on Beck's albums Sea Change, The Information and Morning Phase, as well as Jamie Lidell's 2010 album Compass. Gadson played drums, as well as hambone (slapping his legs), on the D'Angelo song "Sugah Daddy", on the Black Messiah album (2014).[11] He appeared in the 2016 video for “Mama Can’t Help You No More,” by Doyle Bramhall II.

In 2019, James Gadson, who resides in Los Angeles, was featured on Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back as his paternal niece's and nephew-in-law's restaurant, Bayou on the Vine, was renamed "Gadson's Restaurant & Jazz Club", named after him and his late brother, guitarist Thomas Maurice 'Tutty' Gadson (died 2014).[12]



  • "Express Yourself" (Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Band) - (1970)
  • "Lean On Me" (Bill Withers) - (1972)
  • "Use Me" (Bill Withers) - (1972)
  • "Got To Find My Baby" / "Let The Feeling Belong" - Cream Records 1014 - (1972)
  • "Good Vibrations" / "Just To Love You Girl" - Cream Records 1019 - (1972)
  • "Dancing Machine" (Jackson 5) - (1974)
  • "I Want You" (Marvin Gaye) - (1976)
  • "Love Hangover" (Diana Ross) - (1976)
  • "Go By What's In Your Heart" / "Go By What's In Your Heart" - United Artists UA-XW815-Y - (1976)
  • "Got To Be Real" (Cheryl Lynn) - (1978)
James Gadson & Lou Washington
  • Gadson & Washington - "Ain't No Way To Live" / "Indian Village" - B And W Records – BW-011, B And W Records – BW-012 (12" 33rpm single)[13]

As sideman[edit]

With Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

With Thijs Van Leer

  • O My Love (Phillips Records, 1975)

With Melissa Manchester

With Marvin Gaye

With Martha Reeves

  • Martha Reeves (MCA Records, 1974)
  • We Meet Again (Fantasy Records, 1978)

With Frankie Valli

  • Heaven Above Me (MCA Records, 1980)

With Charlotte Gainsbourg

  • IRM (Beck, 2009)

With Bette Midler

  • Bette (Warner Bros. Records, 2000)

With Thelma Houston and Jerry Butler

With Bill Withers

With Eddie Kendricks

With Teena Marie

With Jamie Lidell

With Helen Reddy

  • Reddy (Capitol Records, 1979)

With Beck

With Michael Wycoff

With Solomon Burke

With Justin Timberlake

With Albert King

  • Truckload of Lovin' (Tomato Records, 1976)

With Lana Del Rey

With Thelma Houston

With Elkie Brooks

With Jamie Cullum

With Amos Lee

With Barbra Streisand

  • Wet (Columbia Records, 1979)

With Cheryl Lynn

With Jimmy Barnes

With Teddy Pendergrass

With Corinne Bailey Rae

With Kelly Clarkson

With Aretha Franklin

With Ben E. King

With Doyle Bramhall II

With Donald Fagen

With Philip Bailey

With LeAnn Rimes

With Gloria Gaynor

With Anita Baker

With Randy Crawford

  • Everything Must Change (Warner Bros. Records, 1976)
  • Raw Silk (Warner Bros. Records, 1979)
  • Nightline (Warner Bros. Records, 1983)

With Shannon McNally

With Donovan

With Yvonne Elliman

  • Love Me (RSO Records, 1977)
  • Night Flight (RSO Records, 1978)

With Patti LaBelle

With Aaron Neville

  • Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics (Sony Music, 2006)

With Billy Preston

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Boz Scaggs

With Harry Styles

With Smokey Robinson

With B.B. King

With Leonard Cohen

With Paul McCartney

With Benny Golson

With Adam Cohen

  • Adam Cohen (Columbia Records, 1998)

With Herbie Hancock

With Minnie Riperton

With Joe Cocker

With Tavares

With Nikka Costa

With Phoebe Snow

With Terry Reid

With Jackie DeShannon

With John Handy

With Natalie Cole

With Patrice Rushen

With José Feliciano

  • José Feliciano (Motown, 1981)

With Charles Kynard

With Norah Jones

With Syreeta Wright

With Jerry Butler

  • Power Of Love (Mercury Records, 1973)

With Marlena Shaw

  • Sweet Beginnings (Columbia Records, 1977)

With Blue Mitchell

With Lalo Schifrin

With Herb Alpert

With Vulfpeck

With D'Angelo

With Toko Furuuchi


  1. ^ Amendola, Billy (September 2007). "R&B / Soul Legend James Gadson". Modern Drummer.
  2. ^ "James Gadson". Drummerworld.com. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  3. ^ Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band at AllMusic
  4. ^ Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1972-10-06). "Still Bill - Bill Withers | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  6. ^ "AllMusic | Record Reviews, Streaming Songs, Genres & Bands". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  7. ^ Larger than life at AllMusic
  8. ^ "James Gadson | Credits". AllMusic. 1968-05-18. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  9. ^ Michael G. Nastos. "Rising from the Bushes - Alex Dixon | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  10. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (2009-11-12). "Beck's Record Club draws Wilco, Feist, and others for Skip Spence remake". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  11. ^ "D'Angelo Reborn". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-03-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Discogs James Gadson Discography


External links[edit]